An animal-rights group is calling for an investigation into the use of live pigs at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, claiming the operations on the animals violate federal law. However, a USC spokesman said the school is in compliance with the law.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) said Thursday it will file a complaint with the US Department of Agriculture over USC’s emergency medicine training for graduate students. The group says the Columbia school has its students cut into live pigs to insert tubes, access the heart and perform various cardiac procedures. If the animals survive these procedures, they are killed before the final procedures are taught.
The group says federal regulations under the Animal Welfare Act require that instructors consider alternatives whenever its procedures would cause pain to animals for research purposes. PCRM opposes the use of live animals at all during emergency medicine training and has filed similar complaints across the country.
“Human-based methods provide better training for emergency medicine residents and are used by the vast majority of other emergency medicine programs,” the group’s director for academic affairs John Pippin said in the announcement.
A USC spokesman told The State newspaper in an emailed statement the program follows all federal laws while using animals in teaching and research activities. The spokesman also said the Agriculture Department found no problems in an unannounced April 2016 inspection.
“Both the School of Medicine and Palmetto Health believe that our greatest responsibility as health educators is to prepare health care providers to preserve human life,” a USC spokesman said in a statement. “The use of animals in the training of emergency medicine physicians is limited to a very small number of circumstances which cannot be adequately replicated by simulation experiences.”
The Medical University of South Carolina and USC’s medical program in Greenville do not use animals in their emergency training, PCRM said.